Don Goulding - Blog

Playground of Freedom

IMG 6533aFor you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

I walked through the city wearing a custom-tailored sage-green suit. To the casual onlooker, I had the mark of success. I owned a vibrant business, led an industry organization, and gave liberally to charity. Because I was a born-again Christian and had much of what others aspired to, I was blind to my bondage to the world system.

I was a free son of the Most High God voluntarily performing hard labor for my former warden. I wore his enormous yoke around my neck weighed down with worry, fear, and temptation. Burned into the yoke was a label that read Responsibility for Me. I had only given God my salvation, but not my habits, hurts, and hangups. I had to carry those.

When I finally recognized my bondage, I was hornet-mad. I was born a free citizen of God’s kingdom. I gave that freedom up once and Jesus had to buy it back for me. Why should I give it up yet again?

When I choose to live within God’s moral boundaries, I am liberated into a fenced yard where I may dance and safely be me. Those outside my playground wag their heads thinking I am too hemmed in but I ache for my critics. It is they who are outside the yard and separated from God. It is they who are tethered by their own fret for wellbeing, snared in the need for acceptance from others, and used as marionettes beneath temporal pleasure. I say no thank you to that deceitful version of freedom. I will run to the one who calls me into his playground of love.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your insistence that I should be free.

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Watering Can

 

bucket… Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38 (NETFull)

I looked out the mission-house in Zimbabwe to see twelve-year-old Pauline skipping up the driveway. She was coming to make strawberry jam with Dani. This African child was a beam of sunshine. She didn’t walk, she skipped, she didn’t grumble, she sang. My skepticism doubted her perfect joy and I plied the child with questions.

“Hey, Pauline, what would you do if another girl was angry with you?”

“I’d show them the same love Jesus showed me.” A confident dimple punctuated her reply.

Pauline had every reason to be a sullen child. Her parents were taken by AIDS and she shared an orphanage room with fifteen other girls. She was a watering can made to carry God’s joy to thirsty flowers, but life riddled the can with shotgun holes. Rather than abandon her assignment, Pauline let the holes become sprinklers through which she spread more love to those along her path.

The people we are called to love are not only those distant flowers who have been dehydrated by life, but also those along our path. It is those near me that I have the most difficulty loving. I can go into a third-world country and pour myself into the needy but at home I struggle to love my neighbors. God’s loving joy is for both the foreign bloom and the domestic weed.

If I’m truly carrying the living water of Jesus, it becomes an artesian spring I can’t deplete. I can afford to let it spill freely from the holes of my brokenness onto others. The points of my greatest need become the source of my best gifts.

Those near me have seen my dysfunction, now it’s time to let them see grace flowing from those same holes.

Prayer: Jesus, let me carry your love to all people in every circumstance.

 

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Sin's Gore

Esztergom BasilicaHe said, “Throw her down!” So they threw her down, and when she hit the ground, her blood splattered against the wall and the horses, and Jehu drove his chariot over her … “Dispose of this accursed woman’s corpse. Bury her, for after all, she was a king’s daughter.” But when they went to bury her, they found nothing left but the skull, feet, and palms of the hands. (2 Kings 9:33-35)

Racing one hundred forty kilometers per hour through the ancient tiled buildings of Esztergom, Hungary, three intoxicated medical students crashed their BMW. Two pedestrians were badly injured, one passenger went into a coma, the driver and his seat-mate were both decapitated.

The next morning, I sat across the roadway at an outdoor coffeeshop. The gore had been removed but I couldn’t avert my eyes from the site. The Spirit of God spoke to me about the horrific outcome of sin. It clung to me like smoke from rancid garbage.

I get too relaxed among evil. I treat wickedness like a rich uncle who lets me live with him. I laugh and stay in his house because he pays my bills. Just so, as long as the world pretends to care for me, I indulge its vile.

God is never comfortable with sin. It’s not my place to judge others, but I need to be sickened by my own wrongdoing as God is sickened. Everything from exaggeration to copy-write infringement, from rude comments to impure thoughts—it all adds up to revolt against Jehovah.

Our free will is a sacred right with eternal consequences. Every choice alters the universe for good or bad. So to God, sin is never laughable, rather it’s blood-splattering, head-rolling, life-decimating evil. Every unholy act, word, and thought will be punished, whether in hell, or, thanks to Jesus, there is one more way divine wrath can be spent against evil—on the cross.

Prayer: LORD God, help me to despise my sin as you do.

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